TSW and Noël

Today I logged back into TSW for the first time in, uh, some months, and it made me wish I hadn’t neglected it so. After some pretty strong disorientation, that is. I always get that going back to games – what’s this skill? How do I do that? Oh crap, the B button isn’t Bags, it’s Browser here (something I remapped immediately). How do I walk and talk, let alone chew gum or kill things?!

Still, it was fun. I instantly spent a bunch of freebie lifetime member points on a snazzy new outfit, then I went off in chase of the End of the World quest, which I’m still working on since walking and talking was proving to be such a challenge. Oh, and because I decided to work on a Blade/AR build I’d been pondering months ago before I stopped playing.

Anyway, it was a day without work, which has been pretty rare of late and thus makes it great and fun by definition. Also it’s Christmas Eve, which rocks, since that’s traditionally when presents are opened in France. One’s Christmas expectations seem to be formed in childhood, so I’ve never really got used to the whole wait-for-Christmas-Day business. Fortunately the spousal unit appears to endorse any option that means opening presents earlier.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyful Oh-The-World-Didn’t-End – whatever it is you celebrate or don’t, be nice, be kind, and have fun.

waiting_small

Not only… but also

This has been covered by others already, but fortunately for me I never claimed to be a scoop-hound (I’m far too lazy busy with work). I’ve let it sit in my mental microwave for the last few days, and when it finally went ping I decided that yes, I’m probably going to try out AC2.

I remember the AC2 beta and how froth-botheringly excited the community was, because AC1 players got priority for beta testing – at least that’s how I remember it. It was a long time ago. Hell, it was THAT long ago that the spousal unit and I actually got CDs through the mail to install the beta client. No, really. People used to send CDs all the time. Then again I’m old enough to remember floppies. Wait, does that sound bad?

Anyway, froth-bothering excitement gave way to puzzlement (wtf is this? it’s not AC1!) to interest (okay, but it’s actually a pretty cool character system) to frustration (oh look, another play-stopping bug!). And before someone berates me for complaining about bugs when I was beta-testing, I know. I know. I know. I like beta-testing and I’m aware bugs are the whole point and hell, I do it professionally now, so don’t teach your internet grandma to suck eggs. Every beta-tester has a point at which they transition from “Hey, this is kind of a cool bug, let’s make that cow’s head explode again” to “Ohhhh Goddddd, not another one… Now I can’t move. Now I can’t talk. Hey, what happened to my inventory?”

I reached that point with AC2 after a few weeks of testing which, coupled with a machine that was only barely able to run the game, kind of put paid to both my testing and my interest in the game. I didn’t buy it at release, though a number of my AC guildies, The Knights Who Say Ni, did.

AC2 had quite a few issues in beta, which is what you’d expect. Chat, as I recall, was pretty gruesome (and the Elder Game post referred-to above explains why), but then chat had issues in more than one game back in 2002 or 2003. Star Wars Galaxies was fickle as a drunken debutante when it came to letting you chat or not, at least for the first few months – setting up one of the first cities was quite the experience without guild chat, especially since this was before anyone much used voice-chat.

So yes, my guildies played it and enjoyed it, though it never got as much momentum within the guild as AC1 did. Nothing’s ever the same as your first… Also, SWG came fairly hot on the heels of AC2 and we ALL wanted to try out a Star Wars game (though again, not many of us played it for more than a few months). Actually, that was more or less the time when the MMO market sort of exploded – after SWG came City of Heroes, then later that year both EQ2 and WoW, and on and on…

I didn’t play AC2 at release, I was probably a little unfair about it for various reasons, and now I’m a jaded old hag – or hack – with nostalgic leanings and I’m going to check it out again. It didn’t take me but a couple of minutes to recover my Turbine account info, and there’s my AC1 account all ready to be activated to grant me access to what’s old is new AC2 (although it’s not my original AC1 account – I didn’t migrate it soon enough back in the Microsoft/Turbine migration or I just plain forgot the details, either way my original chars are lost somewhere in v-space).

We’ll see, right?

 

Survey: Avatars

Another email. I actually got the first one a few weeks back and forgot all about it (work having been what it is) other than spending a couple of minutes checking credentials. Even a little blog like this one gets some weird monetization or advertising requests – I dread to think the crap the big blogs have to wade through.

Anyway, this appears legit and could help someone’s research project. I’ve not done the survey myself yet but I enjoyed taking part in Nick Yee’s Daedalus project work a few years back and hopefully even provided some useful data at the time.

Dear Ysharros

I am involved in a psychology project at Charles Darwin University, in Darwin, Australia. We are looking for male and female participants to take part in a project exploring avatar use, in particular – why people do or don’t choose avatars of the opposite gender. In gaining participants we were hoping that you could possibly put a post up on your site regarding the study, along the following lines:

“We are conducting an Internet based psychological study at Charles Darwin University and are seeking male and female participants who are over 18 years of age, are able to read and write in English fluently and who use avatars. The study will examine participants’ identification with their avatars as well as explore why people may use, or not use an avatar of the opposite sex. The study will examine psychosocial functioning in the real world, personality factors as well as sex role identification of the participants’ and their avatars, and will take around 20 minutes to complete. Please go to http://cduhes.asia.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_brQ0uYKeagINqo4 for more details. You are not required to provide any identifying information in order to participate. All information given will be anonymous and protected. Ethics approval has been obtained for the conduct of this study. Thank you.”

[snip - query email addresses]
Thank you for your time.

Kind regards

Amalia Badawi, for Dr. Jon-Paul Cacioli

 

I draw the line at posting people’s email addresses, but if one of you reading this would like to mail the people involved for whatever reason, leave a comment and I’ll forward the relevant info.

Dailies and dragons and pandas, oh my

Prescriptum: I was going to write this at the end of the post, but as usual I’m rambling far too much and I’m adding pictures and this post is going to be a mile long before I’m done. So: I’d like to thank the folks who have been mailing me in support of this blog. I’m eternally surprised that people read this not just out of bloggerly solidarity but out of – apparently – interest and for entertainment. Personally, I think my post quality has gone down the drain in the last couple of years, but I’m hoping the doldrums will pass and at some point I won’t mind revisiting some of the more interesting discussions & themes out there. In the meantime, thanks for reading and most of all thanks for writing to let me know you’re reading – it’s not essential, but it’s very nice to receive.

TL;DR - No time to play, waah. Pandaclysm kinda cool. Where’s my hatchling? Dailies dailies everywhere and not a drop to drink. Move along now.

My gaming time has been somewhat limited these last few months – okay, for most of this year actually – with the occasional glutton-day interspersed with weeks of not logging into anything much. Which is a shame, because there are several games out there I could, would, should and want to enjoy. Two of them are even “free”, more or less – TSW and GW2 – but when there’s no time, there’s just no time. Continue reading

Auction Houses: Pandering to those who hate crafting

This. Elder Game’s The Case Against Auction Houses.

But I mean, what are you gonna do, not have an auction house in a modern MMO?

Sure! There’s no reason every MMO should have an auction house. Lots of MMOs implement it unthinkingly, because they believe it’s a mandatory back-of-the-box feature. Few MMO developers take the time to think about the ramifications of the feature.

I’ve got a lot to say on the subject myself, as a self-professed crafter before anything else in MMOs, but having ignored most of my work over the weekend I’m now forced to actually do some in order to pay the bills. Bah humbug.

Also: I miss SWG. The whole crafter/merchant/harvester thing did sort of turn into a second (and sometimes third) job, but it was the most fulfilling crafting and selling in any MMO, evar.

Short, not sweet

Supposed to refer to this post, but I guess it could refer to me too. I slay me.

1. Hot summer is hot. Where can I find a place that’s 70 degrees (20C) all year round?

On the bright side, it’s so dry here in New Mexico that hot here isn’t nearly as hot as, er, hot in humid places. I should probably work on that sentence a bit more.

2. Bad health sucks. It insinuates tendrils in all parts of your life and makes just about everything more difficult.

I’m not whining (much), just observing. My sympathies to anyone else who’s going through chronic health issues.

3. Work is harder when you’re sick.

Especially if you have a lot of it and feel sick most of the time. Oh, woe is me.

4. Only a month to go to TSW launch if it’s on time. /Snoopydance

I really really want to say more but I can’t so I won’t. I swear, work and health be damned, I’m taking a week off right around July 3rd.

 

SW:Honeymoon

So. I braved snow, snow, snow and more snow to get into town on the 21st (couldn’t get out for snow on the 20th) and pick up a copy of SW:TOR. I suspect if a gajillion feet of snow hadn’t fallen since Thanksgiving, I probably would have got myself a preorder copy after all – though there was no way I was getting a digital version. Trying to download 25 gig or however  big the client is on our crappy little DSL connection? I’d die of old age before it was done.

Anyway, copy was bought and brought home, though not installed until the 23rd. Work, snow, work work, snow. You might be able to tell from my prose that I wasn’t terrifically over-excited about it anyway, though lots of my friends were having fun with it. I really only picked it up because I said (months ago) that I would, and because, well, I had nothing else I really wanted to play on the computer anymore, and my time with Skyrim is closely rationed (the spousal unit gets a turn now and then too).

I will say, I thought the opening cinematics were boss. I’ve only seen the generic one and the Republic side, but at some point I’ll make Empirescum characters and get to see theirs.

My smuggler is not impressed by the Senate

After that, creating a char and logging in and actually playing was… weird, in some ways. It looks and sounds a lot like SWG – how could it not, when they both used the same LucasArts material? Star Wars music is Star Wars music, after all (and it’s one of the reasons this is about the only game that has music I like – it’s REAL music, not some endlessly looping 20-second pseudo-medieval piece of crap with lots of Highlander-meets-Braveheart horns). I actually want to have the music on all the time, but the combat music is tied to it and I really, really hate combat music – so it’s off for now, but not willingly.

It plays and feels a lot like WoW or any other MMO you’ve played in the last 5 years. That’s intentional, and it’s actually pretty smart. I haven’t had to worry about learning new keybinds (much), and when I automatically reach for a key to open a UI element, it’s usually right. My main gripe with the UI is that at 1920 x 1200, which lots of people are capable of these days, it’s still gigantic and clunky, and it’s entirely unscaleable. Even WoW lets you do that without mods – c’mon, Bioware.

Friends have commented on how odd the lack of attention to the UI is, but I’m not surprised at all. Bioware make GAMES, not UIs – I remember the crappy one in DragonAge and in games before that, and I can just see the justifications from here. And, to be honest, I’d rather have a corking good game than a great UI, though I’d really rather have both. The UI feels a lot like early WoW, and hopefully that will change. It’s livable-with, anyway – more an irritant than a full-blown deal-breaker, and you know what a nerd I am about UIs.

I have, of course, made eleventy-million characters already. What can I say. Ironically, the one I’ve preferred playing so far is a tank, believe it or not, though I haven’t been all that good at tanking *all* the mobs with her in the one instance I did (but then we didn’t have any heals either). Even so, all the classes are fun and every class has its own personal story, which has of course been one of the SWTOR selling points.

I’ll admit, it’s pretty neat, but it’s also a little weird. For a while it felt as though I were playing a single-player game that happened to have other people in it – it still feels like that to some extent, but I’m getting used to it, and that feeling ebbs a little once you get off the newbie planet. It’s been really interesting to see that different classes are here / doing X / looking for Y / going to Z for different reasons – I don’t really want to say much because it’s spoilerish, but while the Smuggler and the Trooper base classes both start on Ord Mantell, for instance, their stories and reasons for being there are quite different, and will unfold differently. It’s… neat.

I’d be playing now except it’s Tuesday maintenance. You’d think we were playing WoW or something…